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professionals who motivate and support each other to

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Women Business Owners of the Year Awards

Since 1982, the Women Business Owners of the Year Awards has recognized and honored Puget Sound area women entrepreneurs who have made outstanding contributions to the status of women business owners through their leadership in business and the community. The award, originally known as the Nellie Cashman Award, is the most prestigious and longest running honor of its kind in the region.

Candidates for the Women Business Owners of the Year Awards were judged based on their entrepreneurial spirit, ethics and community spirit, financial management skill, and the difficulty and risk they have endured to achieve their success.

Presentation of the award brought together more than 300 prominent local business and community leaders in a professionally organized and hosted awards dinner banquet to share the inspiration of our most prominent women entrepreneurs and business owners.


Irish-born Nellie Cashman was an American pioneer, philanthropist, entrepreneur and gold prospector. From the time she came west in the late 1860s, Nellie exhibited her unique style of courage, compassion, determination and spunk that made her one of the most famous women in the American West.

Born about 1850 in County Cork, Ireland, Nellie emigrated to the U.S. with her mother and sister. Working as a bellhop in a Boston hotel, Nellie had an encounter with General Ulysses S. Grant, who encouraged her to “go west, as the west needs people like you.” Not expecting to spend the rest of her life being a bellhop or Irish servant girl, Nellie and her family headed toward better opportunity.

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